Week-by-week guide to pregnancy
Our week-by-week pregnancy guide is full of essential information. From early pregnancy symptoms to how your baby is growing and developing, you'll find it all here. Happy reading!
Week 6 – your first trimester
This is an exciting time, as the most incredible things are happening inside your body. However you may not feel like celebrating much due to your tiredness, mood swings and morning sickness. We've got lots to tips to help you this week…
What's happening in my body?
You'll probably look just the same from the outside – but inside, it's another story. Your baby is growing and changing at a very fast pace and starting to grow arms, legs and ears. The liver, brain and musculoskeletal system are also coming along nicely. To achieve this dramatic transformation, the baby gets everything he or she needs from you. No wonder you feel so exhausted that you can't get off the sofa!
No to nausea
Morning sickness can strike at any time of day, although it's usually at its worst when you first wake up. It might help to keep a snack by your bed and tuck in before you peel back the duvet. Experiment with eating six small meals a day, get lots of rest, and follow a balanced, healthy diet with lots of water (try sparkling water). Here are some healthy eating tips. Some women find that ginger helps (in ginger tea, ginger ale, crystallised ginger, and ginger biscuits). Others swear by sucking ice cubes and wearing travel acupressure wristbands. If you can't keep food down, talk to your midwife or doctor.
Early pregnancy symptoms (at 6 weeks)
Many women find it really tough being 6 weeks' pregnant. You may be battling morning sickness and tiredness, along with other early signs of pregnancy. Your symptoms could also include:
- a metallic taste in your mouth
- sore breasts
- mood swings
- new likes and dislikes – anyone for ice cream with broccoli? You can read our advice on weird pregnancy cravings here
- a heightened sense of smell
- you may need to wee more frequently
- a white milky pregnancy discharge from your vagina
- light spotting (see your doctor if you get bleeding in pregnancy)
- cramping, a bit like period pains
- darkened skin on your face or brown patches - this is known as chloasma or the 'mask of pregnancy'
- thicker and shinier hair
- bloating and the feeling of being bloated
There's more too! Tommy's, the baby charity, has a list of 10 common pregnancy complaints with advice on how to manage them.
Rest as much as you can this week, and remember that you won't feel like this forever. Most women start to feel better after the first trimester (after 12 weeks). Remember that there's lots of support available to you. Talk to your midwife or doctor about anything that's worrying you.
What does my baby look like?
Your baby, or embryo, is around 6mm long, which is about the size of a baked bean. It looks like a bit like a baked bean too, due to its curved shape. Some people think it resembles a tadpole with its little tail.
There's a bump where the heart is and another bulge where the head will be. Sometimes the heart beat can be picked up by a vaginal ultrasound scan, but you're unlikely to be offered one, unless you've had IVF. The little arms and legs are starting to form and are known as limb buds. There are tiny dents where the ears will be. The embryo is covered with a thin layer of transparent skin.
It might not look much like a baby now… but it's a work in progress!
The advice for week 6 is the same as for the earlier weeks. Take your foot off the accelerator and look after yourself.
Share the news with your GP, or ask for an appointment with a midwife at your doctors' surgery. Alternatively you can refer yourself to your local hospital – look for contact details on their website.
You'll need to arrange a 'booking appointment'. This usually takes place between weeks 8 and 12 and takes around an hour. You can talk about the options for your pregnancy and the birth. Plus you'll be offered screening tests for infectious diseases, and conditions such as Down's syndrome. You could ask about the Maternity Transformation Programme and how it could benefit you.
You will be offered your first dating scan at 8 to 14 weeks. This is a highlight for many women.
In total, most first time mums will have around 10 appointments and two scans. Ask if it's possible to see the same carer for your entire pregnancy, to give you continuity.
Ask your midwife or doctor about online antenatal classes – they may be able to recommend one. The charity Tommy's has lots of useful information on antenatal classes and preparing you for birth.
It's early days, but ask your partner if they would like to take part in the antenatal classes. These classes will give you the chance to meet other people and prepare you for parenthood. The NCT offers online antenatal classes with small groups of people that live locally to you.
Take prenatal vitamins. You're advised to take 400 micrograms of folic acid, every day, until at least week 12. This helps your baby's nervous system to form and offers some protection from conditions such as spina bifida.
We can usually get enough vitamin D from sunlight, but between October and March it's best to take a vitamin D supplement every day. Just 10 micrograms is all you need (it's the same for grown-ups and kids). It's worth checking if you're entitled to free vitamins.
Do you think you or your partner could have a sexually transmitted infection (STI)? If so, get it checked out, as this could affect your baby's development. Talk to your midwife or GP, or visit a sexual health clinic.
Get moving! It's recommended that pregnant women do 150 minutes of exercise throughout the week. You could start off with just 10 minutes of daily exercise - perhaps take a brisk walk outside. Check out Sport England's #StayInWorkOut online exercises (scroll to the pregnancy section). Listen to your body and do what feels right for you.
Don't eat for two! That's a big myth. If you pile on the pounds, you could put you and your baby at risk of health problems such as high blood pressure. Eat healthily, with plenty of fresh fruit and veg, and avoid processed, fatty and salty foods. You may be able to get free milk, fruit and veg through the Healthy Start scheme.
If you have a longterm health condition, then let your specialist or GP know that you're pregnant as soon as possible. Don't stop taking any regular medication without discussing it first with your doctor.
How are you today? If you're feeling anxious or low, then talk to your midwife or doctor who can point you in the right direction to get all the support that you need. You could also discuss your worries with your partner, friends and family. You may be worried about your relationship, or money, or having somewhere permanent to live. Don't bottle it up – you're important, so ask for help if you need it!
This week's treat
If possible, pamper yourself with a lie-in at the weekend. Your pregnancy hormones are telling you that you're tired, so get some rest!
Want to know when the baby's due?